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Los Angeles bans e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas (updated)

Tim Goldberg, owner of VapeDay, told KPCC he worries how the new ordinance will affect him personally.
Tim Goldberg, owner of VapeDay, told KPCC he worries how the new ordinance will affect him personally.
Brandon O'Connell

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Electronic cigarettes will be prohibited in Los Angeles parks, restaurants and bars under an ordinance approved Tuesday by the Los Angeles City Council.  

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After hearing mainly from health officials and anti-smoking activists, the Council voted unanimously to treat e-cigarettes the same way it does tobacco. A spokesman for Mayor Eric Garcetti said he will sign the ordinance. 

L.A. City Council President Herb Wesson — who is a smoker and frequently seen on the South Lawn of City Hall with a cigarette in hand — told his colleagues he picked up the habit when he was 20 years old and that it will probably kill him one day. 

RELATED: It's back to the future for e-cigarette ads, at least for now

"I will not support anything — anything — that might attract one new smoker," he said. 

But advocates of e-cigarettes say they’re helping smokers quit.  

Brandon O’Connell, marketing director at VapeDay, an e-cigarette shop and vaping lounge in Los Angeles’ Carthay district, cites himself and several colleagues as examples of smokers who have quit by switching to e-cigarettes. O'Connell said that he’s not worried the ban will lead to slowing sales; rather, he is concerned with what he’ll have to do when he’s out on the town.

"What they’re making me do is go to bars and push me into the same area as the smokers," said O'Connell. 

Users will be allowed to turn on their e-cigarettes in vaping lounges, much like smokers are able to visit cigar lounges and hookah bars. 

"Because the LA City Council is forcing people not to use e-cigarettes in public, it stigmatizes them like tobacco and it actually makes fewer people aware that there is a very significant alternative to tobacco," said Phil Daman, President of Smoke Free Alternatives Trade Association.  

A motion from Councilman Joe Buscaino that would have allowed e-cigarette use inside bars was defeated by an 8-6 margin. 

The ordinance is scheduled to take effect in mid-April.